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Found 15 results

  1. caldrail

    Assertion of Power

    The other day I was browsing a back issue of a BBC history magazine when I stumbled upon an article supporting the release of Guy De La Bedoyere's recent book on life in the Roman legions. In it was a statement that the Roman Empire relied almost entirely upon the legions for the assertion of imperial power. Now, as a younger man, I would have accepted that without a hint of doubt - it's a common theme when discussing the Romans, and they said of themselves that they loved the portrayal of military culture rather more than having to endure it. But was that statement correct? Granted, Guy De La Bedoyere is a successful writer and television expert, but the idea that the empire had only the legions to extend power doesn't work so well if one is critical. Firstly, the legions weren't everywhere. They were stationed in areas requiring a higher security presence. Secondly, despite a reputation for efficiency and effectiveness that would make elite armies envious, the legions were neither. They were corrupt, rarely close to anything like full strength, senior officers politically motivated, and their soldiers relentlessly bolshie. For all their supposed invincibility, they left an impressive list of defeats. The sources contain many instances of intervention by the legions, sometimes ordered, sometimes just rebellious or motivated troops throwing their weight about. It's that very drama that made the Romans record such anecdotes, and therefore we might well suspect our understanding is being distorted accordingly. Of course the Romans had other means of establishing power, but isn't that entire concept misleading? We're used to the rather more coherent empires of the last 150 years, the colonial powers, the communist bloc, or the fascist supremacists. Little wonder we see parallels with such constructs. I'll say this up front. The Roman Empire was not a totalitarian state. Nothing like it. In fact, as a political entity it was suprisingly benign, but then Roman culture was based on ideas of free will and self determination. Rome did not as a rule control peoples lives in the manner of more recent empires, and indeed, it would have been extremely difficult for them to have done that. It demanded loyalty and tribute, but free people were free to pursue their lives as they saw fit, with the proviso that if you got dangerous to ordinary peaceful existence, the result would be heavy handed. Note the rebellion of Spartacus. The first response to his escape to Vesuvius and ensuing banditry was not the military might of Rome, but local people getting their act together and trying to arrest him, albeit unsuccessfully. Note the occupation of Germania during the administration of Quintus Publius Varus, who considered (wrongly as it turned out) that the natives were beginning to see Roman law as superior and accepting Roman oversight as a result. Note the factional nature of Roman society, with chariot racing teams presenting a political influence all of their own. Note the use of commerce to influence regions. Note the existence of the client/patron relationship, the very beating heart of ordinary everyday Roman life. So we can see a large number of means by which the empire manipulated rather than controlled. It ought to be realised also that the empire was not a single unified state under the Caesars as is normally portrayed. It was Rome, a city state, that held influence over provinces of varying status that had local government derived from their native peoples and remodelled to Roman style. But of course, as Roman monarchy re-asserted itself after Augustus, so these rulers obtained personal control of provincial areas formerly administered by the Senate. So the situation was a long process of change instead of a stable and conformal ideal. So, the empire didn't need the sort of central control we normally think of nor was that practicable, as indeed the decay of the empire would prove as emperors became dominant lords of all they surveyed. Law, commerce, and the unseen machinations of patricians in their own atriums are not often found in Roman sources as such, being somewhat invisible or dull, thus they didn't write about them. Does that mean these methods of influence didn't exist? I think the Roman Empire needs a different image than the one the Romans bequeathed to us at their own cognizance.
  2. cinzia8

    Barbarian citizens

    Hi all: Can anyone tell me or lead me to a source that would explain how a barbarian gained Roman citizenship? Could it be bought or attained through marriage? I believe I read that barbarian tribes located within the empire's borders were automatic citizens. Can anyone comment? Thanks, Cinzia
  3. Dear all, I have been writing books for several years and I am happy to say that one of them – the novel “Cornelia” – is now also available in English as an e-book. The book was originally published in Bulgarian and had very good reviews which is why I decided to also have it published in English. I can promise you one thing - you will not be bored. 🙂 You can get it as an eBook on Amazon by clicking here. You can also learn more about the book and read the first chapters on my website www.tsenovbooks.com/en. You can also check out the first reviews on Amazon. Thank you all for your interest, for sharing the news and for giving the book a chance - I will be very glad to hear your feedback and to discuss the book. And, of course, if you like it, please share it with others! Stay safe, Emil ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In 2012 treasure-hunters stumble upon an exceptional find near the town of Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria – the tomb of the Roman Empress Cornelia Supera, who remains hitherto almost unknown to history. What they find next to her remains will entangle in a complex knot the destinies of people from different countries and of different social status. Cornelia’s inheritance is desired by American millionaires, English lords and Bulgarian Mafia bosses. At the center of all events is Alex, a professor at a local university, whose big passion are ancient coins. While chasing the unique aureus struck in the name of the Empress, he will have to ask himself many difficult questions and find the answers.After eighteen centuries of oblivion, Cornelia finds a way to tell her story and to reveal an extraordinary woman – intelligent and with the ambition to change history. Together with her husband, the Emperor Aemilius Aemilianus, she will go through all stages of ascent and fall to sink into the mist of time and to again appear triumphantly from it. Cornelia’s story will shake our understanding of the history of Rome and its Balkan provinces in the 3rd century CE.
  4. Jeremius

    The Roman Empire reborn?

    I have a thought experiment for you. What would it take to have the Roman Empire (or Republic) make a comeback? What bare minimums would recreate a recognizable Roman Empire? Here are a few I brainstormed: 1. Must contain city of Rome 2. Latin official language of government 3. Roman Senate active 4. Army using Roman terms. Legion = division, Cohort = battalion, century = company. Dux = 3-star general, etc Further questions: 1. Would there be an official religion? I don’t think there would have to be. Maybe nominally Catholic in the west. Tolerance for all faiths would probably be the law. 2. Who would be considered a citizen? Everyone? 3. Would slavery exist? It’s hard to imagine Rome without it but the point of this experiment, after all, is a modern Rome.
  5. In all my years learning of the Roman Empire i came across a sub group of people i can only akin to flat earthers denying the existence of the Roman Empire forwarding no evidence. They sumise that the buiding where Russian built and the Empire was a fabrication of modern historians to hide the truth. I just wondered if anyone else had come across this and if anyone had a view point on it. Thanks in advance.
  6. I have read several articles on the significance of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. This Rome based monument was particularly useful to Roman authorities. It was a place where Roman politicians would worship Roman gods and offer sacrifices to a cult statue of Jupiter, it was a political conference center, and likewise, a fellowshipping hall for Roman politicians. It also served as a public records archive, as well as the endpoint for Roman triumph processions. The Temple, being the centerpiece of Area Capitolina, was an important religious, political, and cultural symbol that was rebuilt four times, a true testament to the temple's importance to Rome's cultural identity. I found a picture of a relief, circa A.D. 180, that depicts Emperor Marcus Aurelius making an animal sacrifice to the Roman god Jupiter in the presence of fellow Roman political figures. This temple would have been the fourth one constructed.
  7. Equal parts secret service, special forces and urban administrators, Rome’s Praetorian Guard was one of the ancient world’s most prestigious military units. These handpicked soldiers are most famous for serving as the sworn bodyguard of the Roman ruler, but they were also used as a Jack-of-all-trades force in the service of the Empire. Guardsmen fought alongside the legions on campaign, put down uprisings, pacified rioters and served as security at gladiator shows and chariot races. As their influence grew, they also played a pivotal role in the intrigue and double-crossing that blighted imperial Rome. Explore eight facts about the men-at-arms who protected—and sometimes murdered—the Roman emperor. More interesting tidbits on the History Channel website.
  8. I'm not into PC games (or console games since I was 10/11 years old) but I must say the graphics of this one look amazing! More pics and info here
  9. Chris Mills

    Beginner Reading Materials

    Hi all, I am a complete beginner when it comes to ancient Roman history but have always had an interest. I am looking for some books or perhaps online sources that are beginner friendly and do not assume much or any knowledge as my knowledge thus far is limited to Wikipedia pages that I hhave read, Warrior of Rome books and Rome: Total War haha! I am particularly interested in the Military and Political side, however, any books that also cover culture as well as these would be interesting too. Can you suggest any books for me to start out with? Thanks in advance, Chris.
  10. Cool 2-part ZDF documentary on how Arminius led the German tribes' resistance against Rome, culminating in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.
  11. Aurelia

    Orbis: Roman Empire "Google Map"

    Designed and executed by Walter Scheidel and Elijah Meeks in collaboration with a group of IT specialists and students at Stanford University, ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World reconstructs the time cost and financial expense associated with a wide range of different types of travel in antiquity. The model is based on a simplified version of the giant network of cities, roads, rivers and sea lanes that framed movement across the Roman Empire. It broadly reflects conditions around 200 CE but also covers a few sites and roads created in late antiquity. To access the map, click here!
  12. Very interesting podcast about Roman sewers, hygiene, tales and superstition. Worth a listen! ABC Sydney
  13. Forget gory shows and gladiatorial combat. In the late Middle Ages, Rome's Colosseum was a huge condominium, says the latest archaeological investigation into Rome's most iconic monument. Archaeologists from Roma Tre University and students from the American University of Rome unearthed evidence showing that ordinary Romans lived within the Colosseum from the ninth century until at least 1349, when the building was seriously damaged by an earthquake. Discovery News article continues here.
  14. Aurelia

    New History Books (July 2014)

    Below are the new releases for July! Rome: A Brief History of an Ancient Empire Legions in Crisis: Transformation of the Roman Soldier AD 192-284 The Epigraphy and History of Boeotia: New Finds, New Prospects Marcus Aurelius in the Historia Augusta and Beyond The Creation of the Roman Frontier Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic The Etruscans: A Very Short Introduction
  15. We all know about gladiators to a greater or lesser degree. Who they were, what they did, and why they did it. However, it occurred to me that we tend to see gladiatorial combat as a phenomenon isolated from Roman history despite the strong inclusion of arena combat in Roman society. I therefore open the floor to our esteemed members and ask - What did gladiators do for Rome? What was the impact of arena combat on Roman society? Was it merely a manifestation of Roman brutaility an d religion, or did it become a feature of Roman sociology that shaped their history in any way? Citizens - Your thoughts?